• Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

Rare Bubonic Plague Case Confirmed in Deschutes County, Oregon: Officials Advise Precautions


Feb 13, 2024
Health Officials in Oregon: Resident Likely Contracted Bubonic Plague from Cat – KIRO 7 News Seattle

Deschutes County officials in Oregon have confirmed the state’s first case of bubonic plague since 2015. The individual was likely infected by their symptomatic pet cat, according to county health officer Dr. Richard Fawcett. All close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness, said Dr. Fawcett.

The case was caught early and poses little risk to the community, officials said. No additional cases have been reported. Plague is caused by a bacteria found in small mammals and their fleas, according to the World Health Organization. Bubonic plague is the most common form of the disease and can be spread through the bite of an infected flea or contact with an infected animal.

In Central Oregon, squirrels and chipmunks most often carry the disease, but mice and other rodents can also carry plague, health officials said. Symptoms typically appear two to eight days after a person is exposed to an infected animal or flea. They include fever, headache, chills, weakness and one or more swollen, painful lymph nodes called buboes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Deschutes County health officials said that bubonic plague can develop into septicemic plague, a bloodstream infection, or pneumonic plague, a lung infection, if it’s not diagnosed early. Both forms “are more severe and difficult to treat.” To prevent the spread of the plague, officials urged people to avoid contact with rodents, including those that are sick, injured or dead. They suggested keeping pets on leashes while outdoors and using flea control products to reduce the possibility that they get fleas.

Pet cats are particularly susceptible to plague and should be discouraged from hunting rodents if possible

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